Camera Battery Chargers & 3rd Party Batteries

I'm a photographer and a gear head, therefore, as you might imagine I carry around a lot of stuff: chargers, computers, iPads, hard drives and many other things.  I have bags of cords that I need to carry with me to keep all of my gear charged.  I look for any opportunity to streamline.  Here's one tip that can help you eliminate some of the cord clutter.

When I travel, I often carry more than one camera body. Unfortunately some camera makers change the battery size with every new model.  Currently my main camera is an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and my backup is the OM-D E-M10.  Both use different batteries and so I'm forced to carry both chargers when I'm traveling. Luckily the E-M5 and E-M5 Mark II use the same battery as the E-M1.  Hopefully they will continue that trend so we can continue using the same batteries moving forward.

If you have an iPad or a MacBook you already own something that will eliminate your need for carrying the long cords.  It's the removable "duck head" that is attached to your iPad or MacBook charging brick.  Simply remove it and plug it into the socket that you would normally plug the cord into and voila you can plug it into the wall.  If you don't own either of the Apple products I mentioned, you can buy the adapter on Amazon for just $4.99 (at the time of this writing). 

Something you might notice from the photo above is that I label my chargers.  The charging bay for the E-M10, E-M5 and E-M1 are very similar to one another.  To make it easy on myself I just label them so I can quickly tell them apart.  I use the Brother P-Touch, but you can use any label maker or just write on the charger with a Sharpie pen.

While we are on the subject of batteries and their chargers, let's talk third party batteries. I was a little leery about using them actually, but I also didn't like paying the premium price for the camera brand.  After reading some reviews, I decided to give them a try. I chose Wasabi Power and ordered a set for E-M5.  Under $30 for 2 batteries, a charging bay and a car charger adapter.  Quite a deal, but was it too good to be true?  Not at all. I've been using them for well over a year and have not had a single problem, and the battery life is comparable to the Olympus brand.  I haven't done any scientific tests, but I haven't noticed a difference.  Another bonus is that the charging bay charges Olympus brand batteries too, so when I hit the road, I only have to take the one compact charger with me. I own a set for my E-M10 and my TG-3 as well.  The only downside with carrying multiple cameras is I when I hit the road with all three cameras, I'm carrying 3 sets of batteries and 3 chargers.

Please note that you cannot charge your Wasabi batteries in your original Olympus charger.  While charging my Olympus batteries with the Wasabi charger has worked for me and I haven't seen a significant difference in the battery life of the two different batteries, your milage may vary.

So if you are considering 3rd party batteries, read the reviews and ask fellow photographers what they use.  At the price point though, you really don't have much to lose by giving them a try.

UPDATE (2/17/15):  I wanted to post an update as I've been receiving some feedback outside of the comments section about the use of third party batteries that I thought were relevant to share.  One person shared that they had 3rd party batteries  swell up on them and they were difficult to remove. He also related that a friend had a similar problem and had to send it back to the manufacturer to get the battery removed and was told that it voided his warranty.  I have not had any of these issues and have been using third party batteries for well over a year.  As with anything, buyer beware in all situations.  I am sharing my experiences, but that is no guarantee you will have the same experience. 

Check out the companion video to this post below.